Mary Elizabeth Williams

How to embrace doing nothing -- especially if you're working from home

The world has changed exponentially since Celeste Headlee released her latest book "Do Nothing: How to Break Away From Overworking, Overdoing, and Under Living" just earlier this month. Already, the notion of eating lunch in your cubicle or  answering work emails from home seem like the habits of another era. Yet her message — of creating boundaries, of stepping away from the glowing screen now and then, of admitting that multitasking makes us less productive rather than more — seems more important now than ever. Our brains are already on high alert for the foreseeable future. It feels imperative to our mental and physical health to slow down.

Headlee, the co-host of "Retro Report" on PBS and author of the bestselling "We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter," joined us recently in our Salon studio to talk about why we aren't really working any more than our parents did, and why working from home now shouldn't mean we're working 24/7. Watch the chat with Headlee here or read the transcript below:

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How our failing healthcare system gave us Gwyneth Paltrow's crackpot Goop

"What the f**k are you doing to people?" the slyly grinning Gwyneth Paltrow asks in the trailer for her new Netflix series, "The Goop Lab." I've been asking myself the same about her for years now. I finally think I get it, though. Goop is a monster of our own making.

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Three cheers for the 'Megxit'!

Sure, you love your family, but have you ever felt like you just … need some space? Like an ocean or two? Have you ever really burned out on playing the Roman to a sibling's Kendall? Maybe then you've been feeling a degree of empathy for what that good-looking couple known as the Sussexes initiated this week — a royal mini retreat that's already been dubbed "Megxit."

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Remembering Elizabeth Wurtzel: 'Prozac Nation' changed how we talk about and treat depression

A bottle of Prozac sits on my kitchen counter. It's the property of one member of my household, and a friendly companion to my own bottle of Wellbutrin that resides beside it. Those two containers are part of the day-to-day fabric of our lives and routines here, like our toothbrushes and sticks of deodorant. We simultaneously take them for granted and wouldn't dream of letting them run out. They help keep us fit for society and our own company as well. Sometimes, I look at those bottles and think of every bit of relief and shame and trepidation I felt when our doctors first suggested those pills might ease our  suffering, and I remember the complicated woman who helped create the modern face of depression and anxiety.

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'Cats' is a mesmerizing laser pointer for your brain

Was there ever a moment when “Cats,” Andrew Lloyd Webber’s theatrical smash musical, was not considered high camp? Was it ever not an offhand shorthand for tourists and karaoke? I ask because the only answer I can come up with to the question of whether the movie musical of “Cats” is any good is another question. Is “Cats” supposed to be good?

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My God, I miss smoking

There is nothing glamorous about a piece of trash on a dirty sidewalk. The red cardboard box had been discarded with such casual disregard, its owner hadn’t even cared that there was a garbage can a foot away. It lay there on the sidewalk, surrounded by dead leaves and a single candy wrapper. Nevertheless, all I could think when I saw it was, “My God, I miss smoking.”

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Director Michael Lehmann explains why Ivanka and Kellyanne are today's 'good Heathers'

Ithink it just comes down to this: Who doesn’t want to kill their friends sometimes? All I know is that on a brisk spring evening in 1989, my pal Carolyn and I went to the movies. We based our choice that night entirely on the fact that this movie starred the girl from “Beetlejuice,” and some guy who seemed be doing an inexplicable Jack Nicholson imitation. We have spent the subsequent 30 years of our lives quoting "Heathers" every chance we can get.

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The job of being a Christian isn’t just being kind and forgiving. It’s making trouble for those who abuse their power

I don’t really know, if Jesus walked among today, his bucket list would include “Boo the president of the United States at a ball game” or “Kick Sarah Huckabee Sanders out of his restaurant” or “Take a pass on shaking Mitch McConnell’s hand.” But there’s definitely enough room in my Christian heart to believe it would be a totally viable option.

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The uneasy farce of 'Jojo Rabbit': Joking about Nazis is trickier than ever

“It’s definitely not a good time to be a Nazi,” a baby-faced Hitler Youth drily observes in director Taika Waititi’s ambitious, polarizing coming-of-age epic “Jojo Rabbit.” Whether you find a line like that entertaining or not will likely tell you how you’ll regard the other hour and 47 minutes that surround it. Me? I laughed.

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Is the Statue of Liberty the world's largest drag queen?

It's a classic American story. It begins with a dream, of course, a dream that that takes root in a faraway land and takes years to manifest, years of setbacks and economic hardship. But eventually, it becomes one of a woman who makes her way to the United States, where she becomes a larger-than-life icon. So if you think for one hot second that the story of the Statue of Liberty wouldn't be somehow intertwined with drag queens and Diane von Furstenberg, you don't know your history.

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